Regardless of what the economists say about equalization of the global economy, one thing remains in tact: Call center operator in India costs a business five or even ten time less than an operator based in the US. The same applies to an accountant, desktop support worker, and web developer.
BPO is here to stay, and you will find many job openings in the field on any major job board.
Whether you will outsource front office (customer support, tech support) or back office operations (HR, accounting, payroll) in your new job, for some foreign company, the interview process will be the same. We will have a look at it in this article, including questions you will get in each round of interviews. Enjoy!
First Stage: Screening interview
A BPO company will firstly interview you on a phone, or online. This first stage is called screening interview, and they have the following goals while interviewing you:
- They try to understand your English language skills (you may even have to complete a language test).
- They try to get a basic grasp of your personality, motivation, and attitude to work.
- Based on the above two they try to determine whether it makes sense to invite you for a face to face interview.
Let’s have a look at a few questions you may get at this stage.
Why did you apply for this job?
Speaking honestly, working in a call center or back office of some foreign company isn’t a dream job of anyone. It would make no sense to try to convince your interviewers about the opposite.
But there are some good things about the job, and you should focus on them in your answer. For example:
- Opportunity to improve on your communication and language skills.
- Chance to work with people from an international corporation, and get a basic grasp of their business.
- Possible opportunity for future promotion, or even relocation abroad.
You can refer also to a good reputation of the company, or a recommendation of a friend who works for the business.
How do you imagine typical day in work?
Show them that you like to be busy in work. Say that you imagine spending a lot of time on the phone, or in front of a computer screen (depends on the exact BPO job you’ll do).
Do not talk about lunch with colleagues, or enjoying a cigarette on a balcony :). For sure you will enjoy these nice things in your new job, but it is better to not mention them in your interview answer.
Don’t forget to read the job description carefully at least twice, to understand what will be expected from you in the job–and refer to these exact duties in your answer.
Why do you think you are the right person to work for our business process outsourcing company?
You can refer to two things in your answer. First one is the company itself–what they do, their working environment, the goals they try to achieve, the location of the company. Try to find anything that resonates with you and your values.
Second thing are your skills and experience. Strong communication skills, understanding for foreign customer, tech skills or accounting skills or payroll skills or anything you’ll do in a new job.
You will typically get an excellent training before starting, but to know the basics always help.
How do you feel about working in the night?
Night shifts are perhaps the biggest drawback of BPO jobs. You are based in India or China (or other Asian country), but the customers you’ll work with are based in the US. That’s a twelve hour difference.
In most BPO jobs you will work in the night, and you have to count with it. Say that you have experience with night shifts, and that you do not struggle with your attention and focus during the night. You can even say that you are a night owl, and enjoy working in the late hours.
One way or another, try to sound confident about your ability to handle night shifts.
Other questions for your screening interview
- How do you feel about talking on a phone for eight hours each day?
- On a scale from one to ten, how would you rate your English language skills?
- What is your major weakness if we talk about working as a call center operator?
- How long do you want to have this job?
- What motivates you the most in work?
- Why should we hire you?
Second stage of the interview process: Face to face interview
You have already passed the screening interview. They know that you are serious about your job application, and meet the basic job requirements, including language skills requirements.
Now they want to test your attitude to work, and how you would handle various difficult situations on the job. They will use behavioral questions to find it out. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Imagine that you do not understand the question of a customer on a phone (their accent is strong). What would you do?
You can start with saying that it is unlikely to happen, since your language skills are strong, and you have experience with people/movies from all parts of English speaking world.
If it happened, however, you’d politely ask them to speak slowly, to spell the problematic world, or to use different wording to explain their request. If nothing worked, you’d give them an email to send their request to in writing, or move the call to another, more experienced colleague.
Special Tip: download list of twenty most common interview questions for BPO in a simple, one page long .PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
How would you deal with an angry customer?
Say that you would always stay courteous. You can also say that you understand some customers will be angry, or upset, and that you count with this aspect of the job, and won’t take bad words personally.
You can suggest apologizing to the customer, or simply doing your best to address their request, regardless of their mood and things they will say to you.
You feel that one of your colleagues just wastes time on the phone. It seems to you that she doesn’t work effectively. What will you do?
This is a tricky question. An obvious answer is that you will report the colleague. But this in not the right things to say in an interview.
Companies have their systems for monitoring staff performance. You should care only about your job, and you shouldn’t think about other colleagues, and whether they do their job responsibly.
Say that you plan to focus on your own job, that you want to do it effectively. You do not plan to spy on your colleagues, or waste your time thinking whether they work as hard as you do.
Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work.
Customer is not happy with your answers. They keep asking you question after question. You see that ten other people are waiting on a line, and to make things worse–your colleague disappeared somewhere (perhaps they went to smoke a cigarette), and you are the only person in the office.
Such a situation can easily happen in your BPO job. How will you deal with it? And do you have such an experience from the past?
The key is to show the interviewers that you stay calm under pressure, that you don’t crack. Show them that you can prioritize your tasks, and focus on one task at a time. If this is your first job application, you can narrate a situation from school (for example when you were preparing for a difficult exam, and were under pressure).
Other questions you may face in your face to face interview
- Imagine you were very tired on a night shift, and could not do your job properly because of that. What would you do?
- Describe a conflict you had with one of your colleagues in your last job.
- Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, or to a customer. How did you manage to get your message over?
- Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
- How would you go above and beyond for the customer?
- Describe a time when you experienced a conflict of your personal and professional interests.
Typical interview in a company that specializes in business process outsourcing consists in two stages: screening interview (online or on the phone) and behavioral interview (face to face).
You will have to demonstrate your motivation and communication skills in the first one, and right attitude to work, your colleagues and customers in the second one. If you manage to do it, they will hire you for the job.
If you struggle with answers to the questions, consider having a look at our Interview Success Package–it includes great answers to all difficult screening and behavioral questions. Thank you!
May also interest you:
- Phone interview tips – Learn how to make the right impression on the phone.
- Skype interview tips – Seven rules you need to understand anytime you want to ace a job interview on Skype.
- Body language in an interview – Say the right things without words.